The Kuniang (middle left) in promotional art for Strider (2014).

Kuniang M.A. Team (M.A. standing for Martial Arts[1]) are a recurring team of boss antagonists in the Strider series of action platformer games. They appear in all versions of the original coin-op as well as its two sequels. In Japan, they are called the Three Chinese Girls (中国3人娘 (Chūgoku Sannin Musume?)) in the first game,[2][3] and Tong Pooh Three Sisters (東風三姉妹 (Tonpû Sanshimai?)) in all later appearances.[4][5] Out of its three members, Tong Pooh (also written "Ton Pooh" or "Tong Poo") is the most representative of the group, having the most on-screen time and guest appearances in crossovers.

In the 2014 Strider game, the team is officially known as The Four Winds, now including their master Xi Wang Mu as the fourth member.[6] The sisters often call themselves simply The Winds in-game, however.

Description[edit | edit source]

The Kuniang M.A. team is a trio of Chinese sisters that offer their services as bounty hunters.[2][7][8] Their strength lies in their hand-to-hand mastery and teamwork, employing perfectly synchronized and magnificent dance-like movements.[3] Their mastery of Chinese martial arts is beyond that of ordinary people, with their kicks being strong enough to generate a "Plasma Whirlwind", a plasma-like arc of energy not dissimilar from the one made by Hiryu's Cypher.[2][3][7][8]

Each sister has their own weapon (introduced in the 2014 game) and signature attack (introduced in Strider 2), using the plasma generated by their kicks differently, though they also sport techniques shared by all three of them.

Concept[edit | edit source]

The Kuniang Team's design was influenced by the boom of Bruce Lee and Kung Fu at the time, and the popular image of a Chinese girl expert in martial arts.[9] Since Isuke wanted a scene against a human-like boss rather than a giant one, and it'd involve martial arts, he considered a Chinese girl would look good. Their pixel animations were drawn by Isuke himself, as he likes "dance-like movements".[9]

The name Tong Poo was inspired by the popular song "Tong Poo" from Yellow Magic Orchestra's self-titled album.[9] The name of the team used in English, "Kuniang", is an alternative spelling of the Mandarin Chinese word for "girl", gūniáng (姑娘).

In the early stages of development for Strider 2, Tong Pooh was considered to take the 2P character spot, but the concept was scrapped and she eventually became a mid-boss instead.[10] During development, the design team tried different concepts while designing Tong Pooh, but ultimately ended up simply updating her original look.[11]

The team as a whole were given unique hairstyles and individual techniques to set them apart, as they were identical palette swaps of the same sprite in the original. Official artwork shows them with different designs as well, but their in-game sprites ended up being identical except for their colors and hairstyles.

In the 2014 Strider game, Pei Pooh and Nang Pooh were the first two enemy characters revealed during a Capcom "Special Stage" event held at the 2013 Tokyo Game Show,[12] while the full team (now including Tong Pooh and their master Xi Wang Mu) was officially revealed three months later through the official site.[13] The youngest sister's name being Nang Pooh instead of Sai Pooh was presumably done to keep the "four cardinals" theme naming and avoid redundancy, since both "Sai Pooh" and "Xi Wang Mu" feature "West" in their names.

As most of the returning characters, their design attempts to "rebuild" them by fusing together elements both old and new.[14] The sisters' new design, however, was difficult to adapt while considering a balance between them and the new original bosses. New elements such as the elaborate hair ornaments were introduced, while keeping their original coloring intact. In addition, thanks to the new hardware allowing for a wider variety of expressions (like lightning and textures), the new designs sought to bring back the original design's dynamic feel while providing an atmosphere more appropiate for the 21st Century.[15]

The three sisters were given their own individual weapons to set them apart even further, altough in exchange they lost most of their signature melee attacks, including the back-turning kick. Each sister was also given a specific flower motif, shown in their uniform and as a shower of petals during certain attacks and when defeated: Pei Pooh has a peony, Nang Pooh a lily and Tong Pooh a red rose.

List of members[edit | edit source]

Tong Pooh
(東風 (Tonpû?), east wind)
alt. Tong Poo, Ton Pooh
Middle sister as well as the leader of the trio,[2][5][7][8] recognized by her green clothes and hairstyle, two braided pigtails. She's the most vocal out of the three, usually taunting Hiryu after being defeated. Her signature attack is a back kick which generates an arc of plasma energy. An expert in kenjutsu,[5] her weapon of choice is a Chinese Rinkaku sword.
Sai Pooh
(西風 (Shāpû?), west wind)
Youngest sister,[2], recognized by her blue clothes (purple in the first game) and hairstyle, twin pigtails. Her signature attack is a descending flying kick engulfed in plasma energy.
She's absent in the 2014 Strider game, her spot and traits being inherited by Nang Pooh instead.
Pei Pooh
(北風 (Peipû?), north wind)
alt. Bei Pooh
Oldest sister,[2][5] recognized by her red clothes and hairstyle, a long ponytail. Her signature attack is a series of rapid kicks which release small blades of plasma energy. Her name was mistakenly localized as Nam Pooh. Mixing her martial arts with gunfighting, she wields short Jizhaorui hook-like blades with a built-in submachine gun in each hand.[5]

The "Fourth" Member[edit | edit source]

In the original Strider, there's a second optional boss fight against the trio in the last stage, the Third Moon. In contrast of the different coloured suits used by the Kuniang, this trio uses a grey-and-black attire. They are faced in a much smaller space, making their continuous attacks more difficult to handle. Some official sources refer to this character as Black Tong Pooh (ブラック東風 (Burakku Tonpû?)).[16]

A minor enemy in the crossover game Namco × Capcom seems to be a nod to this boss fight, being identical to Tong Pooh and wearing a grey costume. According to the game, these are named Nam Pooh/Nang Pooh (南風 (Nanpû?), south wind), and are clones of Tong Pooh.[17] It is unknown if this information applies to the main series, since there was no prior mention of this fact before or after Namco × Capcom.

In the 2014 Strider game, the spear-wielding Nang Pooh became an official member of the team, replacing and inheriting most of Sai Pooh's characteristics (being the youngest sister and wearing blue clothes[5]). The sisters' master Xi Wang Mu, introduced in this game, is considered the team's fourth member, even though it's rare for all four members to fight together.[6][18]

Story[edit | edit source]

Strider[edit | edit source]

The Kuniang M.A. Team was contracted by Grandmaster Meio to eliminate Strider Hiryu after his victory over the higher-ups at Kazakh, having placed a large bounty for his head.[7][8] As with fellow bounty hunter Solo, Hiryu is intercepted by them as he makes his way through a siberian plateau, the sisters leading an entire airship force.[7] Hiryu finally engages the trio aboard the leading airship, the Sky Thunder Mk-II, after he commandeered it in-flight. After defeating them all he confronts Tong Pooh, demanding to be taken to "[her] boss", but Tong Pooh instead calls him a fool and reveals to him the existence of the Flying Battleship Balrog.

Strider 2[edit | edit source]

The Kuniang M.A. Team is a trio of sisters who provides their deadly martial arts training to use as ruthless assassins. When they're not hunting down targets, however, the sisters have a cover job working as entertainers in the "Míng Liàng Acrobatics Troupe" (明亮雑技団 (Meiryō Zatsugi-dan?)), where they perform as contortionists.[19]

The Kuniang M.A. Team takes part in the terrorist attack on Neo Hong Kong City spearheaded by the Chinese Mafia, with Light Sword Cypher's support. Hiryu confronts them in the high society residential area, on a speedway crowded by flying cars. Jumping from car to car, Hiryu faces the three acrobatic assassins and defeats them at the end. Following Hiryu's destruction of the Emperor Dragon, a defeated Tong Pooh taunts him with his foolishness in believing he can take "her Lord" (Grandmaster Meio), and that the whole world (and Hiryu himself) belongs to him. Hiryu retorts that she's the only one that will always be Meio's servant, and leaves her behind.

Strider (2014)[edit | edit source]

The Four Winds are a team of freelance bounty hunters with a worldwide reputation.[6] Trained by the mysterious expert martial artist Xi Wang Mu, also known as "The One Who Controls the Wind",[20] the three sisters are themselves expert martial arts masters, each specializing in different individual styles as well as powerful combination attacks between all three. The sister trio work as subordinates of Grandmaster Meio and are specifically tasked with assassination missions.[5]. While the three sisters are well-known across the world, no one has seen the team's fourth member (Xi Wang Mu) in action,[6] and there are only unconfirmed rumors about the existence of "a martial artists from the same school" in Kazakh City.[21]

Before Hiryu's infiltration in Kazakh City, the Winds confronted and defeated the twin Striders Kuga and Raiga, having overcome their combined attacks with those of their own. After Hiryu infiltrated the city, the sisters confront him at three different points. Pei Pooh fights him first on her own and is defeated, then Nang Pooh and Pei Pooh attack him together to no success. Finally, all three sisters fight him in the Industry area with their combined strategy, but are defeated in the end.

Later, the sisters' master Xi Wang Mu confronts Hiryu at Grandmaster Meio's orders and to avenge her students, but not even her inmense strength is enough to stop Hiryu.

Abilities and skills[edit | edit source]

The Kuniang team's main strength lies in their combined hand-to-hand attacks, which is why they always work together as a trio.[2] Their strategy consists in using martial arts with their strength and speed to overwhelm their opponents with quick and agile movements and lethal attacks, coming from all directions and with enough strength to generate a sharp plasma arc on their own. It's said that, when the three work together as a team, their combined might can overcome any other fighting style.[5] Besides enhanced strength, they are also shown to be extremely fast (in Strider 2, they move fast enough to literally vanish in front of Hiryu and leave afterimages in their wake) and move with delicate and graceful movements, an ability born from their mastery of martial arts.[2]

Attacks[edit | edit source]

As previously stated, each of the three sisters has her own signature attack, but they also possess two special techniques that any of them can perform.

  • Back Spin Kick: The signature attack of Tong Pooh, originally used by the whole team. Tong Pooh starts out by doing a small hop forward, and quickly spins in mid-air. Once her back is facing the opponent, she does a back kick with enough strength to generate a long arc of plasma energy.
  • Flying Kick: The signature attack of Sai Pooh. After jumping high into the air, Sai Pooh descends with a fast angled flying kick, while her feet is covered in blue energy.
  • Rapid Kicks: The signature attack of Pei Pooh. As soon as she lands from a jump, Pei Pooh makes three quick kicks in front of her, each one trailed by a small blade of red energy.
  • Somersault Kick: A technique used after one sister is eliminated, replacing the signature attack of the remaining ones. Right after landing from a jump, the attacker does a backflip kick engulfed by a large plasma arc. The technique also release a large plasma projectile straight forward.
  • Three-Way Kick: A technique used by the remaining sister, after the other two are eliminated. After a quick jump, the attacker stands in mid-air and quickly kicks at three different angles towards the enemy (diagonal-down, center, diagonal-up), each releasing a large plasma projectile in said direction.
  • Backflip: Not an attack, but an evasive technique used by all three. If they are hit by Hiryu, they will perform a quick backflip to back away and then move out of Hiryu's range, in order to resume their attack.
  • Ying-Yang Combination: A 2014 game's technique used by Pei and Nang Pooh when fighting together. Joining together, Pei Pooh performs her Wild Shooting attack while Nang Pooh keeps Hiryu away with her Whirlwind attack, difficulting the dodging of Pei's shots. As they do this, a red and blue ying yang forms around them.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Instead of her usual green, Tong Pooh is seen wearing a more blue-ish color in her official art for Strider, blue in her portrait in the Master System port and purple in the PC-Engine portraits. Coincidentally, both colors have been used by her younger sister Sai Pooh, purple being her sprite color in the Arcade game.
    • Interestingly their costume colors resembles the three main protagonist sfrom Joukamachi no Dandelion, which Pei Pooh is like Akane Sakurada, Tong Pooh is like Kanade Sakurada, and Nan Pooh is like Aoi Sakurada.
  • While the other two sisters are not present in Namco X Capcom like Tong Pooh, according to a Japanese site[22] there are remnants in the code that implies they were planned to appear at some point, but were ultimately dropped.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Sega (September 1990, Mega Drive). Strider (English). Instruction manual, Pg. 14
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Capcom (October 2006, PlayStation). Gamebook: Strider Hiryu (Japanese). Pg. 42. ISBN 4-86233-076-2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sega (September 1990, Mega Drive). Strider Hiryû (Japanese). Instruction manual, Pg. 23
  4. Dice Creative, NEC Avenue (September 1994, PC-Engine). Strider Hiryû (Japanese). Instruction manual, Pg. 5
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Capcom (2013). "Character: Tong Pooh Three Sisters". Capcom's official Strider site (Japanese). Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Capcom (February 2014, multi). Strider (English). Online Game Manual: Characters. Accessed November 07, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Strider Development Staff (March 1989). "Strider Hiryu Characters Original Image Collection". Gamest (30). Pg. 98-99.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Capcom (February 22, 2014). Strider Hiryu Visual Chronicle (Japanese). Pg. 07
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Scion; Dire 51 (April 24, 2010). "Interview with Kouichi "Isuke" Yotsui". LSCM 4.0. Translated by Gaijin Punch. Accessed June 07, 2011.
  10. Capcom (1999). Capcom Secret File #26: Strider Hiryu 2 (Japanese). Pg. 11
  11. Capcom (1999). Capcom Secret File #26: Strider Hiryu 2 (Japanese). Pg. 3
  12. Dengeki Online (September 20, 2013). "State-of-the-art old school action "Strider Hiryu"! Stage Report and Announcement of Enemy Characters Pei Pooh and Nang Pooh. (Japanese). DengekiOnline. Accessed December 20, 2015
  13. Spencer (December 19, 2013). "The Tong Pooh Sisters Return in Capcom's New Strider Game". Accessed December 20, 2013
  14. Tani, Rio (February 21, 2014). "With love for the original, the team has revived the newborn "Strider Hiryu" - Mr. Andrew Szymanski interview" (Japanese). Accessed December 20, 2015
  15. Hosoyamada, Ryouta (February 21, 2014). ""Strider Hiryu" Creator Interview" (Japanese). Accessed December 20, 2015
  16. Gamest Staff (October 15, 1992). "Capcom Game Character Encyclopedia". Gamest Extra: All Capcom (81). Pg. 133-148.
  17. Monolith Soft; Namco (2006, PlayStation 2). Namco × Capcom (Japanese). Chapter 35: He who Tempts the Devil
  18. Capcom (February 2014, multi). Strider (English). Character Intel #32: Xi Wang Mu - Queen Mother of the West
  19. Capcom (February 22, 2014). Strider Hiryu Visual Chronicle (Japanese). Pg. 34
  20. Capcom (2013). "Character: Seiohbo". Capcom's official Strider site (Japanese). Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  21. Capcom (February 2014, multi). Strider Hiryu (Japanese). Online Game Manual: Character Introduction. Accessed August 19, 2017
  22. PS2 Save Data Analysis Results - Namco x Capcom (Japanese). Retrieved from Accessed August 19, 2017
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